This column was inspired by a conversation with a client, and while I am addressing him, it has implications for all of us.
A few years ago, I was consulted by the president of a manufacturing company, and it was there that I first heard about "just-in-time manufacturing," also referred to as "continuous flow." The idea is to produce goods to coincide with orders: no inventory, no warehousing: nothing is produced before its appointed time. It occurred to me that there is also a "just-in-time knowing" where one learns to trust that one will know what one needs to know when one needs to know it. We don't have to stockpile plans, beliefs, and fantasies about the future. We can meet life with an empty personal warehouse, and when a demand is made, the revelation will be produced. I think that your unique leadership style reflects this kind of knowing.
This attitude implies that one does not need to have it all figured out ahead of time, but that one can quench ones' thirst for knowing by dropping an empty pail into the unfathomable well of now. I think this is what you mean when you suggest to your questioning managers, "Just listen to the work. It will tell you what needs to be done." One could just as easily say, "Just listen to life."
Your leadership is strengthened by your respectful relationship to "not knowing." While most people press and strain to know everything in a definitive way, you are at peace with simultaneously knowing and not knowing. You sometimes remind me of Siddhartha, who learned to wait while listening to the flowing river, ultimately learning the secrets of the universe. You too have a great capacity to wait. You wait for the right moment in which to know and act; you wait for the auspicious alignment of forces or people or circumstances.
This waiting can be frustrating to others who are not similarly disposed. It can also appear to be uncertainty, vagueness, even weakness. You are often pressured by others to be definitive about both the present and the future. People want you to provide irrefutable direction, to resolve the ambiguities of living and working that seem to crowd in on us more and more. I often hear people screaming silently, "Just tell me what, where, when and how!" I think you know that answers to those questions are like the weather in the Swiss Alps: ferociously unpredictable and changeable.
Conventional business ideology urges you to develop a strategic plan of the future, a blueprint for success which everyone will believe in and rally around. But your planning is primarily derived from observing the intricacies of now, and this is a kind of strength which Lao Tzu would know and appreciate. It is a strength that requires depth in listening, patience in action, and harmonious relationship with all things, not just one's strategic plan. It requires one to master the insistent pressures of one's own mind and to learn how to thrive and prosper within the basic uncertainty of living.
Just-in-time knowing does not handicap us; in fact, it links us to a clarity that cannot be known otherwise. This clarity is the reflection of what is actually occurring; it is a combination of subtle perception, insight, and intuition. Our capacity to act with this clarity is what generates the most appropriate response in every situation, because this clarity is a function of relating to and assimilating the late breaking news of a continuously flowing reality. People plan because they can't see what is happening. People control because they are not in accord with the organic and evolutionary continuous flow of nature.
The inspiration, vision, and purpose which originates from this clarity is seen within the very fabric of the unfolding present, not fabricated or created by disparate strands of desire and hope and ambition. This clarity of knowing wells up within us from the central intelligence agency of life itself. Our future is most assured if our present is in accord with this intelligence.
It seems that you discover what to do, when and how, by continuously relating to and flowing with everything that is happening, which in turn deepens your connection to the living present. By honoring the living present, you receive its treasure of wisdom that cannot be known ahead of time, but just in time. I see that your vision, your goals, your plans all come about spontaneously as you express your basic intention to live in accord with the intelligent force of life itself.
I also see that you have built an international company which is, by any measure, its industry leader.
May everyone be at peace, in love, and know their most perfect Self.
Robert Rabbin is an author, speaker, and advisor. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing: 2629 Manhattan Ave., Ste. 192, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. His new book, The Sacred Hub (The Crossing Press, ISBN: 0-89594-837-0), is available in bookstores or from the publisher at (800) 777-1048.
"Echoes in Silence" is a bi-weekly column by Robert Rabbin--author, speaker, and advisor--who has spend thirty years using self-inquiry as a means to explore the true nature of self, mind, reality, and consciousness.
His new book, The Sacred Hub (The Crossing Press, ISBN: 0-89594-837-0), is available through the bookstores nationwide.